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Greg Monroe signs qualifying offer, will be unrestricted free agent in 2015

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After a summer of failed negotiations with the Detroit Pistons on a long-term deal, Greg Monroe signed his one-year qualifying offer Friday, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Monroe will earn roughly $5.5 million in 2014-15 before becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.

We've known for several weeks that this was a possibility: USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt was the first to report the news last month that it would happen. But a lot of fans, myself included, held out hope that it was simply an idle threat, one last-ditch effort on Monroe's part to convince the Pistons to up their offer.

By signing a one-year deal, Monroe is leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table, and even if he signs a lucrative deal next summer, it'll take a long time before he's able to recoup the money he's leaving on the table this season. For NBA players seeking their first big contract, there are very, very few instances in which players have traded guaranteed financial security for the right to choose their destination. From SB Nation's Tom Ziller last month, in a column bluntly titled "No one believes Greg Monroe will take the qualifying offer:"

Think of all the weird, tortured restricted free agency cases we've had over the years, like Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Gerald Wallace and others. None of them resulted in the player signing the qualifying offer.

Ben Gordon is the closest example of a high-level case. After failing to reach a deal with the Bulls in 2008, Gordon signed the qualifying offer and received an absurd, painful five-year, $55 million deal with Detroit in 2009. But Gordon is a rare case: since 2003, only 13 first-round picks have ever taken the qualifying offer. Of those 13, only Spencer Hawes agreed to a long-term deal with the same team.

Well, we can officially add Monroe to the list, and only time will tell if Detroit is able to convince him to return next summer.

ESPN's Zach Lowe reported in July that Monroe wanted the Pistons to trade Josh Smith before he'd commit to the team long-term. Monroe seemed to dispute the report on Twitter, but it's been repeated enough times (and certainly passes the common sense test) that it's generally been accepted as true among fans, fairly or not.

Do Monroe's actions today put additional pressure on the Pistons to trade Smith this season? Or is Smith the new long-term answer at power forward? The only person who might know that answer is Stan Van Gundy -- and even he probably won't make up his mind until midway through the 2014-15 season.

In four years with the Pistons, Monroe has averaged 14.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. In his last three years after becoming a full-time starter, he's averaged 15.6 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He's been remarkably consistent from year to year, which is impressive considering he's played for four (really bad) head coaches in four years.

Monroe reportedly had two unnamed teams willing to give him a max contract this summer, but neither one apparently had the cap space to sign him outright or the assets to interest the Pistons in completing a sign and trade. And while he'll likely receive even more interest without being tethered by restricted free agency, he's still just one of many talented big men potentially hitting the market next summer. In no particular order, next year's free agency class could include:

Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Love (player option), Al Jefferson (player option), Tim Duncan (OK, not likely, but just saying), Lamarcus Aldrdige, Paul Millsap, Kevin Garnett, Tyson Chandler, Carlos Boozer, Omer Asik, Amare Stoudemire, Robin Lopez and Amir Johnson.

This is a topic we discussed at length earlier this summer on the DBB Podcast, but that's a diverse group of players at various stages of their career who can be had for a wide range of price points. And Monroe will be competing with all of them. I understand the restricted free agency process can be extremely frustrating for young players, but it's not going to get much easier next summer.

Much of Detroit's motivation to lock up Monroe this summer as a restricted free agent was to avoid losing an asset for nothing. But next summer? Should Monroe remain a priority, or would the Pistons be better served spending their money elsewhere? Josh Smith bombed at small forward, but if he proves that his love for taking shots that he can't make can be restrained at the four, should the Pistons prioritize finding a new small forward over pursuing Monroe for a second summer? We have 10 months to ponder that one.

Now your thoughts.